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UN Programme on Disability   Working for full participation and equality

International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December 2003International Day of Disabled Persons
3 December 2003

International Day of Disabled Persons 2003

A Voice of our Own

The International Day of Disabled Persons aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of disabled persons in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The observance of the Day in 2003 will focus on giving a voice to the human experiences of disabled persons. The voice of persons with disabilities is seldom heard in the mainstream media. When persons with disabilities are portrayed, they are either stereotyped or presented as an inspiration for “overcoming” a disability. Observance of the Day should therefore be used to offer an opportunity for persons with disabilities to speak for themselves.

The theme of the Day is based on the goal of full participation and equality of persons with disabilities in social life and development, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in 1982. During the almost twenty years since the adoption of the World Programme of Action, initiatives have been taken to realize its goals worldwide.

Completing ten years, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities represent a strong moral and political commitment of Governments to take action to attain equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. Standard Rule 1 calls for States to act to raise awareness in society about persons with disabilities, their rights, their needs, their potential and their contribution.

Awareness and information about the situation of persons with disabilities is critical if full participation and equality are to be achieved.

Observance at United Nations Headquarters

Seminar on Disability

Conference Room 4
1:00-4:00 PM

Opening and welcome
Ambassador Luis Gallegos
Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations

Ten Years with the Standard Rules – What has been achieved?
Kalle Konkkola
Disabled Peoples’ International

UN Support to Disabled People’s Rights
Sheikha Hessa al-Thani
UN Special Rapporteur for Disability

The Road Towards a Convention
Gerard Quinn
Irish Professor specializing in Disability Law

Questions & Answers

Cultural Activity
Raul Midon, singer

Why it’s necessary? What do we want to achieve?

Michael Brennen (World Federation of the Deaf-Blind)
Steven Estey (Disabled Peoples International)
Tina Minkowitz (World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry)
Eva Sandborg (World Health Organization)

Lex Frieden
President of Rehabilitation International

Closing remarks
Jose Antonio Ocampo
Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Very Special Arts Exhibit

(Exhibit opening follows end of seminar)
The exhibit will be open to the public from 3 December 2003 to 15 January 2004.


Kong Ho (Pennsylvana, USA)
Yashpal Chankrakar (India)
Lanham Bundy (Rhode Island, USA)
Sergio Giraldo Giraldo (Colombia)
d'Elaine Johnson (Washington, DC)
Maria Jankovics (Canada)
Mark Parsons (New York, USA)
Jean-Michel Terencio-Arrouet (France)
Marcee Blackerby (Utah, USA)
Marquetta Bell Johnson (Georgia, USA)
Linda Carmello Sibio (California, USA)
Dayanara Fuentes (Panama)

Additional resources:

Resource Kit
Prepared by Disabled Peoples' International, this informative advocacy guide will help you plan activities for the Day. It provides ideas on what to do and how to coordinate publicity, as well as work with the media.

World Premiere and live Webcast: Bearing Witness: Luke Melchior
National Film Board of Canada and the Canadian Association of Independent Living Centres will present a special webcast screening and discussion of the film "Bearing Witness: Luke Melchior," December 3, 2003 at 6:45 EST.

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